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First off can I just say - another fantastic read from the master of the thriller genre!
I have an immense love of reading and James Patterson is undoubtedly my favourite author and I am pleased to say that 'CROSS' doesn't disappoint.
For all you James Patterson fans out there you will, I'm sure, know who Alex Cross is. However, for all you JP virgins, here is a summary:
The Alex Cross series is James Patterson's first and probably most popular. Alex Cross is a police detective/psychologist who has, in previous books, worked for the Washington DC Police Force and for the FBI and at times has had his own psychiatrist practice. He is known as the 'Dragon Slayer' due to the 'baddies' and evils that he has faced and brought to justice. His main task however, is looking after his family - his sons, Damon and baby Alex and his daughter Jannie. Oh and not forgetting his gran, Nana Mama, who always plays a big part in the series with her opinions and disapproval of Alex's job. Alex unfortunately lost his wife Maria (before the first book) and this has come up several times throughout the series, just to portray the battles he has to face not only at work but also at home.
Anyway, back to the book!
When I first saw Cross on the bookshelf I knew I had to have it (although that can be said whenever a new JP book comes out!). The front cover is striking with a simple pale blue background but then a big bold 'CROSS' on the front of it. It was obvious then that it was going to be the next instalment in the Alex Cross series. Then, when I read the front and back cover it struck me that this could be the final book in the series as Alex Cross faces the deadliest psychopath of them all - his wife's killer!
'So, stop going on and just tell me what it's all about already!' I hear you say. Ok, here it is.
Alex decides to quit the FBI so that he can spend more time with his kids and with Nana Mama (oh and not forgetting Rosie the cat!). He sets up his own practice again as a psychologist. Thoughts that this is it now for 'Dragon Slaying' and that now he can get back to a normal life are soon diminished as his long time friend and ex partner John Sampson turns up on his doorstep to inform him that there is a new killer in town known as 'the Butcher' and to ask a favour. The 'Butcher', who could be the most violent, grotesque killer that either have known, is a serial rapist who cuts his victims with a scalpel and then takes photos of them to frighten his next victim. Alex soon learns that the 'Butcher' could well be the person who gunned down his wife who died, bleeding in his arms, several years ago and who is the only 'Dragon' he has never managed to slay.
Alex and Sampson are now on a manhunt trying to find the 'Butcher', which is not an easy task as he has managed to avoid being caught for decades and is a very clever man. Alex and Sampson need the testimonies of these women to stop the predator, but the rape victims refuse to reveal anything about their attacker because they are scared that they will end up like the people in the photos. Alex still has to deal with his family life of raising his kids, not making Nana Mama mad and trying to build a relationship with a local doctor while confronting his own memories and emotions about Maria which he has held locked up for a long time.
I wont go into the detail too much as I don't want to spoil the book for those of you who want to read it.
'So what did you think about it then?' Needless to say though, this is another fantastic read. It has the fast paced, page turning effect that are apparent in nearly all of his books and the familiar short chapters which make you want to read more. The one thing that this book has that all the other Alex Cross novels don't however, is the trips back into his memory when we have the chance to meet Maria for the very first time and get a glimpse of what their life was like before that tragic night.
The characters are all well thought out as we are reunited with the old and are introduced to some new and all are interesting to read. As always, we get an insight into Cross and also an insight into the psychopath/killer and we get to see both sides of the story as chapters are split between Alex and the 'Butcher' as narrator.
I would say that if you have never read an Alex Cross novel before then you may want to read some of the others before beginning this one. Although his past is brought into the story somewhat, you would have a better understanding of who he is and what impact his wife's killing has had on him throughout the series.
The inside cover called this the most terrifying Cross ever which is true to some extent but it also called it the most emotional Cross ever which I think sums it up very well. There are sections in the book, particularly towards the end, when I had tears actually rolling down my face reading it, which just goes to show the genius behind James Patterson's words.
I said at the beginning of this review that I thought this was going to be the final instalment in the Alex Cross series but the last chapter did make me wonder if we actually have seen the very last of Alex Cross as Patterson left it open for another book.
To sum up - whether you are a James Patterson fan or not, if you love fast paced, thrillers with murders, revenge and a bit of sex thrown into the mix, then this is the book for you.
Finally got around to reading this - it's excellent! Thanks, Wolf x
wolfatgoogle 27.01.2007 08:40
Great review! I so nearly bought this with my Christmas money.. but that was a hard choice! i know i'm ging to have to read it real soon though, it;'s the book a lot of JP fans have been waiting before really. As to the quesion - is it the last Cross book? i know he's starting a new series based around a new character so who knows? For any JP fans not aware, you can sign up to newsletters on his website and learn a lot about the great man. And what a nice guy he really seems to be!
torr 22.01.2007 18:51
I've not read any Patterson. Perhaps I should. Duncan
The Alex Cross thrillers of James Paterson have become something of an institution. His ... more
criminal psychologist protagonist is one of the most vividly etched in the field, and the now-lengthy series of books has set a consistently high standard, even though Paterson's famous reliance on co-writers has become rather controversial. Cross Country involves Alex Cross in a caustic personal war against major-league corruption. Itâs a narrative that takes the reader across a massive canvas. Alex is called in after a murder investigation - a crime that has resulted in considerable carnage. He discovers to his horror that the victim is an old friend, and this makes his search for the criminal involved even more determined than usual. His quest takes him into the underworld corners of Washington, DC, and even on to a massively dangerous odyssey to the Niger Delta. The stakes are customarily high in James Patterson's crime narratives, but the author has ratcheted them up even more than usual here, with heroin traffic and the slave trade mixed into a heady brew. Perhaps the most memorably drawn character here is the psychopathic head of a group of killers, the 'Tiger'. The latterâs battle with Alex Cross has clearly re-energised the author, and Cross Country has all the compelling qualities of the earlier novels. If you haven't sampled an Alex Cross novel recently, this is the one to pick up. --Barry Forshaw